The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Carle and the Wondrous World of Picture Books

Posted on July 5, 2018

by cindy vanderbrink

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar” has been delighting children for nearly 50 years! I needn’t say much about the book as almost everyone is familiar with the delightful little caterpillar eating his way through a week. The book is rendered in Eric Carle’s signature bright, hand-painted collage artwork which is easily recognizable.

Over his long career, Carle has written and illustrated over 70 books and established The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The Carle is a must visit for all fans of the picture book format. The museum, on the campus of Amherst College, is small but mighty. There are three galleries- one usually has an exhibition of Carle’s work; the others feature illustrators new and historic. The Carle has a lovely Reading Library with over 4,500 picture books, an Art Studio and even a Volkswagen Beetle painted with the hungry caterpillar!

The Carle Museum - Exterior
The Volkswagen Beetle painted with the hungry caterpillar

I’ve been twice since the museum opened in 2002. The museum first lured me in 2006 with “Dutch Treats: Contemporary Illustration from The Netherlands.” Particularly because the work of Dick Bruna, the illustrator of “Miffy”, was featured in the exhibition. “Miffy” was my favorite character as a child.

Dutch Treats - Miffy
Miffy by Dick Bruna

I visited again in 2013 for “Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems Exhibition.”

Seriously Silly : A Decade of Art and Whimsey by Mo Willems
Mo Willems at The Carle

Mo Willems has quickly become one of the most popular children’s book authors/illustrators as children (and adults, too) love his hilarious characters. I really love “Elephant & Piggie” and it was awesome to see the process pieces in the exhibit.

It’s time for me to start thinking about my next visit! There are some fantastic exhibits currently installed including “Paddington Comes to America.” If I don’t make it to that one, I’m really going to try to visit the upcoming “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50” exhibit.

Please see The Carle’s website for more information about the museum.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle is just one of the great books on the 101 Picture Book Challenge list.

What is the 101 Picture Book Challenge?

The 101 Picture Book Challenge is for anyone at any age. Librarians hand picked the titles on the list which includes classics, new titles and everything in between.

Toledo Lucas County Public Library's 101 Picture Book Challenge - book cover collage

To get started, register online. You can track your progress online or if you prefer a paper log booklet, pick one up at your neighborhood Library. The books are organized into categories but you can read the books in any order and at your own pace. When you read all 101 titles, you earn a free picture book (while supplies last).

This is the latest in a series of blog posts exploring some of the things we love about these books.

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